Rivers on: “Why I’m voting for Kathleen Wynne” An opinion piece.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

 May 28, 2014


Margaret Wente, a columnist for the Globe and Mail, wishes that Bill Davis were running in this provincial election because he represents “the good old days”.   But Bill Davis, the Conservative, in all his fourteen years as Premier never once balanced a budget.  In fact he was the kind of spender Tim Hudak daily accuses Kathleen Wynne of being. 

 Davis used public resources to grow the province, opening up the public treasury to improve education, infrastructure, health care, public transit, the environment and electrical energy.   Davis understood that growing an economy is like growing a business, the business of good government.  You need to invest and sow seeds if you want to harvest and profit.  And he understood that investing for the longer term, in areas like education, is important too.

 That is why I can’t support Tim Hudak.  Even though we both obtained economic degrees at the same university, Hudak must have missed a few classes.  I mean does he really want to be Mike Harris redux?  Perhaps he is just stuck in time, given all those days he spent in the Harris caucus.  Hudak’s promise to fire 100,000 teachers, nurses and civil servants has already sent shivers through the markets.  And his war on trade unions would almost make Harris’s ‘Common Sense Revolution’ look like,,, common sense. 

 Harris learned the hard way that cutting taxes just makes the deficit bigger – which partly explains why he took so long to balance his budgets.  By comparison, McGuinty’s growth program saw balanced budgets almost as often, despite the global recession which crippled our auto industry.  And do we really want to further slash corporate taxes just so the big banks can make even greater profits? 

 Hudak’s so-called ‘million jobs plan’ has become the biggest joke in this election campaign.  Wente’s reference to Hudak’s economic plan being described as “a load of ripe manure” pretty much sums it up.

 And what has happened to Andrea Horwath.  She turned up her nose at the kind of budget NDP’ers only dream of – the kind even Bob Rae had never introduced.  Ms. Dithers, who took forever to decide to support the last budget, which gave her everything she wanted, was quick to reject this one because it offered the NDP too much.  Having caused this election however, she has now decided to adopt essentially the same Liberal budget she’d just rejected as her platform.

 Rank and file, and even her candidates, are disowning her.  They are just as confused as she is about what she really wants.  Lately and sadly, Horwath has reverted to just screaming corruption at the Premier.  A false accusation since, while there may have been political pandering and some mismanagement during the McGuinty era, that is not corruption.  We know that all governments, including that of good old Bill Davis, have also suffered their fair share of mismanagement and scandals.

 Of course, the deficit is an issue and will need to be brought under control, and the debt paid down.   But Ontario’s current debt is about the same as that of the federal government on a GDP basis, comparable by that measure to some of the other provinces and considerably lower than Quebec’s.  Also, with the low interest rates we have been experiencing, debts and deficits are less of a concern, providing they are used to fund wise investments..

 Had Mr. Hudak attended and paid attention to the economics classes dealing with fiscal policy, as I had, he would have learned that it is better to grow your way out of a deficit than to cripple the economy with tough austerity.  The recent sad experience of European austerity is a good case study of just that.  And if Mr. Hudak doesn’t believe me, he could always consult with that other economist, our PM, to learn about how growth has helped get the nation’s books out of the red.  

Wynne arms wide A

Energetic, engaging, open, stable and visionary.

 Some people think you need to change governments every couple of electoral terms, just to get a fresh start.  Except that is not what the people of Alberta have been practicing for the last forty years.  The ruling PC party there refreshes itself by changing its leader, usually before that leader reaches his/her best-before date.   It is still democracy when you keep electing the same government, if only because the other parties are just too scary for you – as they are in this upcoming Ontario election.

 Here in Ontario the PC’s once ruled continuously for 42 years with a number of different leaders at the helm.  Kathleen Wynne has been Premier for a little over a year and has shown herself to be energetic, engaging, open, stable and visionary.  She is as close as we get to Wente’s Bill Davis in this election.


Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.

Background links:


 Wente on ghosts  haunting Ontario

 Bill Davis

 Balanced Budgets

Alberta’s Elections


Tractor Pull

The NDP (Caplan)

 Horwath’s Platform

  Horwath’s Problems

  Hudak’s Economics

  Hudak (Caplan)

  Hudak’s Million

  Hudak’s Math



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18 comments to Rivers on: “Why I’m voting for Kathleen Wynne” An opinion piece.

  • Joan

    Having read the candidates’ answers in the Post I note that only one, the NDP mentioned poverty as part of an issue. It is in my opinion the number one issue which has a stranglehold on thousands in our own community. This is primarily because those with single income households cannot manage to pay rent, bills and utilities, and groceries, and health care, and transit and day care and and and. Why is this? This is because all housing for decades is built for the so called average incomes over 100K per. year which really for the most part is not average, but many with more than one income per household which is what the market is charging for rent and only those with such an income can afford them. What is required is income based affordable housing for all income levels not just an average at the top which neglects to mention many of which are multiple income households. For my part the candidate and the party that fail to make this a leading issue, which of course will ensure that rents according to income level, or rent supplement will give people independent living status instead of having to depend on the patchwork of assistance available which does not promote independent living, will Not get my vote. Until I see a proactive plan in place after decades of poverty caused by the lack of affordable accomodations I will Not vote. I Will vote for the party and the candidate that produces a viable plan and implement it immediately.

    • Ray Rivers

      Joan – you make an excellent point with respect to affordable housing. I do worry about the issue of low-rental units being treated as ghettos and the social consequences that can bring. I wonder if it wouldn’t be simpler to ensure income levels are high enough to make the rents affordable – something a guaranteed income could facilitate, for example. And for struggling seniors facing high rents a ‘real’ pension plan would allow them to live out their lives in dignity. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.


      • Joan

        Yes Ray I agree with you that we certainly do Not want ghetto housing of any nature. There could be rent supplement programs for those seniors already retired whose income is simply nowhere near enough to live on. This would apply mainly to sole support senior women who are the fastest and largest group being forced into poverty. This is because for those born during world war 2, by the time they were old enough to work there was No Canada Pension Plan, which is too bad because back then one worked 6 days per wk. 8and a half hours per day.
        Many times working double shifts 7 days per week to support the family. That would have been one hell of a pension. Then of course when women stay home with the children and back in the 50’s there was no day care and even later it was hard to get day care and even after a 7 year exemption after that there was no contribution to pension until working full time again and when the first recession hit there was no longer full time work with pension and benefits hence the downward spiral that put many women in the poverty level at retirement.
        Solutions could be find developers or the Region can determine that a certain percentage of units must be given to Real affordable rents.
        This does Not include the current idea of the Community Benefit of 10 or 20% off the top of rents over 1,000.00 per mo. Most senior women who did not have husbands pensions from Large co. such as Stelco Dofaso etc or who were second wives in many instances and who did not have well paid emp. with pen and ben. (remember women were only working for pin money then they told us) have the smallest pensions of 1,300 and change if in receipt of the income supplement live in enforced impoverishment.
        This has nothing to do with living beyond their means or laziness and not working etc as most women have contributed the lions share of volunteer work over their lifetimes in their communities from the time their children are small. They serve in schools and churches take care of family extended as well, neighbours friends, on and on and in the end nada. To be forced into a 650sq. ft box where they must give up all of their possessions as they cannot fit in order to have rent geared to income units that exist all in the same buildings all with persons with varying disabilities and frailness etc is Not the answer and in my opinion among many others strips individuals of their dignity. You are right about that. Additionally it is difficult to help one another if you are all in the same boat so to speak. Some persons are very active and others not so it is not a good mix. Women’s work especially all of the volunteer work is not considered in the GDP or GNP and should be as the men who are mentioned could not possibly do what they do if they had to take over what the women do for free or pay for it. Therefore, if women are the caregivers of, all of the children and stay at home, or the adults, of the family or disabled persons etc. they should be given a monthly pay cheque and pension and benefits for their work. Beacause that has not been done for those already retired with single income households which cannot pay the rents set at multiple income rates then subsidized pensions well above the poverty level should be given to them. This can be done where they already live to a maximum amount. That is to say the rule of no more than 30% of income cannot apply in some cases but if the maximum amount helps then it can be given. In other words it is helpful where apts. are 800-900 or 1000. pr mo. but if rent or mortgage is 3k per mo. I doubt it would help, if the maximum was say 500 pr mo. At any rate this way it is anonymous and is a repayment for those women and the men who do not receive a large pension.
        Going forward you are right it is a good idea to incur larger payments for a larger pension plan.

    • Pat

      And where do you think any additional money for social housing is going to come from?

      I’m done with paying any more taxes for anything, and especially to pay someone else’s rent. I pay my own way thank you very much, and live within my means.

      Unlike the socialist vultures who want everything for nothing.

    • Joan

      I am not an economist or a financial guru but in order to have income based affordable rents where no more than 30% of income is required, to accommodate all income levels in a community not just the highest income households.
      This would mean building them at an affordable rate which is doable and has been and is being done. It does Not require tax dollars from individuals to support it. Not all buildings need be built to bethe most costly, which goes without saying.
      The communities, cities and towns we live in are for All of it’s citizens not just those with the highest incomes. Typically the I live within my means so it is their own responsibility arguement comes up from people who know nothing of the reasons for this overwhelming problem. Recession, downsizing, obscene interest rates just to name a few. It helps to do one’s homework instead of being nasty try to be a good citizen and try to find proactive solutions to these dilemna.
      I am happy to see Ms Lewis did some research and discovered that not everything can be found to be the fault of Kathleen Wynn.
      It is interesting to note that so many people who have the most negative comments to make hide behind pseudonymns to do so. I reverted to using only one name because of the vitriol they direct to anyone that has an opinion most often the truth, that does not go along with their particular bent.

  • Any article that starts with a quote from the discredited Margaret I’m-not-a-serial-plagiarist Wente must be read with a great deal of skepticism. Mr. Rivers’s article, however, needs more than its share.

    I note especially how cavalierly he dismisses the current Ontario Liberal debt/deficit with: “the deficit is an issue and will need to be brought under control, and the debt paid down.” But shows nothing in the Grit platform that might suggest how this will be done without Hudak-like austerity measures.

    Liberals’ former finance minister Dwight Duncan had a very different take on this subject earlier this month. “Ontario is faced with a staggering debt,” he said while calling for the Government to “fundamentally re-evaluate its role.”

    As to Mr. Rivers’s “false accusation” charge over Ms. Horwath “screaming corruption at the Premier” comment, I’ll not pile on as the first commenter (above) seems to have adequately covered this. I must add, though, that Mr. Rivers’s tolerance for what he calls “some mismanagement during the McGuinty era” goes far beyond my level of acceptance of such behaviour, which does indeed rise to the level of corruption.

  • Pat

    First of all, none of the allegations against Wynne have been proven. If anything, she is a simpleton caught up in the frenzy of the socialist momentum choking our economy and quality of life. I actually kind of feel sorry for her, because she is a good and dedicated soldier fighting in tough times. I would not want to be in her shoes.

    The problem with a guy like Harris is that he did not go far enough to kill the adverse influences of some parts of the unions, and the lethargic civil service of which there was plenty at the time.

    Also, economic degrees don’t automatically grant you a competent expert license in economics; I already know I cant spend what I don’t make. I don’t need to pass some tests in school to understand basic math.

    Hudak might just be the guy who gets rid of excess government. Not get rid of good and efficient government, because there is a lot of that, but, get rid of the inefficient segments of the government sectors and the red tape and redundancy; and perhaps empower the civil servants who are capable and productive. I think that if you promote in a positive way, the spirit of productivity, less layers of management and make work programs, this provincial government can be strong and reflective of a private sector marketplace.

    Right now, it feels like we are all functioning in a decaying swamp. Empower the people and teach them that it is possible to be confident, transparent, and accountable; and that will strengthen our economy and government.

    Having said that, the Liberals are dysfunctional on all levels and desperately unproductive – actually quite damaging economically and socially in a snowballing effect.

    Brad Duguid stated something recently like “we have learned from our mistakes”. Hey, that’s very warm and fuzzy to say something like that, but, if somebody screws up and blows $1B on something like the gas plant situation, then they would be expected to be shown the door and escorted out by security to go and learn from mistakes at some other company.

    Liberals are fired; that’s how things are done; time is up even though it may not be necessarily a good idea to constantly change the government event though 10 years is long enough. Change is always good, especially if you have potential like this province has.

    Hudak is the best person to unlock that potential and make all of us stronger. If anything, the spending fatigue will at least come to a temporary halt. I need a break from paying bills for getting less than nothing.

    The Conservatives get my vote.

  • Gary

    Hudak never said he would “fire” 100,000 civil servants. He said he would reduce the employment rolls by that number over 4 years. Imposing a hiring freeze, combined with people leaving the civil service for various reasons, not the least of which will be “boomer” retirements, will account for a goodly number of these reductions.

    As to a million jobs, well, that very much depends on how you count jobs. I consider that more “eye-catching” headline stuff than a real promise. I am still searching for the 50,000 green jobs McGuinty claimed he created with his windmills and solar panels. Hudak comes closest to implementing the very sensible Drummond Report that the Liberals commissioned and then ignored.

    As to Horwath, just because a handful of grey-haired old time Marxist members are teed off by her middle of the road approach doesn’t mean she isn’t on to something. Tony Blair created New Labour in Britain and Jack Layton put a new smiley face on the federal NDP, both with electoral success. Horwath has made it clear that her issue is not economic, it is basic honesty in government — a mantle the current Liberals cannot hold.

    Wynne has made it clear the she will not implement a simple formula for saving a billion dollars a year over the long-term by abolishing the separate school system, which has been done in Quebec and Newfoundland. She is also the one responsible for re-introducing religious dogma into the school system by encouraging the “mosqueteria” in Scarborough, the one where girls with their periods must sit at the back of the room lest their uncleanliness pollute the sanctity of the prayers. For a female Premier this is a special disgrace.

    I note that Mr. Rivers’ column was full of condemnation for the Liberals’ opponents, but light on Liberal positive accomplishment in their decade in office. Not surprising, of course, yet still noteworthy.

    When Mr. Davis was the Premier, the province was economically buoyant, was rapidly growing and could afford to invest in a great deal of infrastructure because of an increasing tax base. Now the province has stagnated. It is fine to boast about your credentials as an economist that make you into a seer, Mr. Rivers, but the facts on the ground are that Ontario has fallen badly in growth (business investment, full-time employment, new manufacturing, etc.) and has no clear plan to reverse that under the Liberals who are partly responsible for creating that problem in the first place.

    There was a time when people used to say, “I am not going to vote for a ‘tax and spend’ politician.” Those were the good old days and how we would embrace such a politician today. Now it is all about borrowing and spending. The entire Liberal program is based upon increasing borrowings on top of an already huge debt. It is time to get that elephant back in its own pasture.

    Finally, one must philosophically consider accountability in politics. How can the electorate punish a political party for egregious misdeeds? There is only one way, at the polls on voting day. Perhaps you don’t care for the cut of another party leader’s jib, but you surely cannot continue blessing the current Liberal government and rewarding it with another 5 year mandate, otherwise, there is no accountability.

    • Joan

      I would like to know the evidence that Kathleen Wynn or anyone else “encouraged the Mosqueteria” in Scarborough or anywhere else.

    • greg.fabian

      I am searching for the 600,000 jobs over 10 years that was promised by McGuinty which would result from implementing the HST

  • Mr.Bean

    I have always voted for the Conservatives. This election I am voting for the NDP. I can’t accept the current Conservative plan to rid us of unions and jobs. I can’t vote Liberal for all the obvious lies and broken promises. I may be the only house on my street with the NDP sign on the lawn, but win or lose I will be able to sleep a little better at night.

  • Joe Lamb

    The sad part of Ray’s article is it doesn’t matter what the Liberals do he would find a way of supporting them. Talk about looking at l politics through rose coloured glasses. Why give people like Ray a platform as a columnist to preach their bias opinion . Shouldn’t reporting be a little more fair and balanced? Just my thoughts ! Joe Lamb.
    Editor’s comment: Does Joe Lamb know how to read. The headline says quite clearly that it is an opinion piece. One man’s opinion – that’s all. Opinion Joe – not reporting. River’s is as entitled to his rosy view as Hudak is to the lousy math that got him to the 1 million jobs.

  • Donald

    Vote Green for stability

  • Mars

    BTW, to the politics-disinterested headline scribe: The candidate’s name is Kathleen, not Katherine.
    Editor’s note: Thank you for that. Changed.

  • Mars

    Short version: “Because I am a policy advisor to the Ontario Liberal Party.”
    Editor’s note. Ray Rivers is not a policy advisor to anyone.

  • Tony Pullin

    Here are some examples of how we have attempted to “grow our way out of a deficit” by a party that includes the “stable and visionary” Kathleen Wynne:

    CTV Toronto News’ Peter Brunner posted this.

    Green Energy Act (20 billion)

    eHealth scandal (almost 2 billion)

    Gas plant scandal (1.1 billion theft and cover-up of our tax dollars) Deleting e-mails

    ORNGE scandal (700 million)

    Ontario Northland Railway scandal (820 million)

    Caledonia Hydro Line scandal (116 million)

    Lobbyist scandal (two multi-million dollar scandals)

    Eco-Fee Reversal scandal (18 million)

    CancerCare Ontario scandal (millions of dollars)

    Slush Fund scandal (32 million)

    Niagara Falls Commission scandal

    Ontario Power Generation scandal

    Children’s Aid Society scandal

    Nanticoke Coal Power Plant Shutdown scandal

    G20 Secretly Approved Police Power scandal

    Auto Insurance scandal

    Foreign Scholarships scandal (our students pay the highest tuition in Canada while foreign students get free university educations)

    Offshore Wind Turbines scandal

    Samsung scandal (sole-sourcing)

    Pan Am scandal (cost increase from 1.4 to 2.5 billion)

    MPAC scandal (over and under-valuation of properties)

    OLG scandal (millions of dollars)

    Isotape Shortage scandal

    Chemotherapy Dosage scandal

    Payout for Pan Am CEO (250 million)

    Trillium Wind Power and Sky Power Limited lawsuit (500 million)

    Cement company lawsuit (275 million) – Quarry outside Hamilton was scuttled for political reasons

    School bus service lawsuit

    Augusta/Westland lawsuit as it pertains to ORNGE

    Elliot Lake Collapse lawsuits (two lives lost due to recovery delays)

    Ontario Medical Association lawsuits – applied to Superior Court alleging McGuinty not negotiating in “good faith”

    Breast Screening scandal (ensuing lawsuits due to thousands of misread mammograms, one life lost)

    Class-action lawsuit for autism funding cancellation

    Over 650 new agencies, boards, commissions and entities such as LHIN’s and CCAC’s

    Over 300,000 new public servants many of whom, are on the sunshine list

    Public sector employment in health care increased by 39%

    Public sector employment in social services increased by 39%

    Public sector employment in education increased by 34%

    Paying more Liberal taxes only to receive fewer services as taxes now being spent to pay the salaries and perks of newly-assigned, Liberal-friendly public servants

    Gutted our manufacturing base (job growth across Canada except in Ontario)

    Nearly one million Ontarians now out of work

    Increased spending by 80% while our economy grew by only 9%

    More than doubled our debt to 288 billion

    Running a 11.3 billion annual deficit

    Debt servicing costs will rise from 11.4 billion today to 14.5 billion once the debt exceeds 300 billion by 2017-18

    Interest payments on our debt now the third largest budget expenditure after health and education

    Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress confirmed that McGuinty’s Green Energy Act grossly underestimated the cost to consumers and overestimated the number of new jobs that would be created

    Tax collectors getting 45,000.00 severance packages for switching job titles from provincial to federal

    Two ministries under an OPP criminal investigation – ORNGE and gas plant scandals

    Pharmacy war

    Illegal green taxes

    Increased smart meter, electricity, hydro, tuition and car insurance costs

    Implemented tire tax, electronics tax, eco fee, health premium (tax), WSIB tax increase, HST, beer surtax

    Failing grade on ADHD education

    Ranking the lowest of all provinces for fiscal performance

    Delisting eye exams, physiotherapy, chiropractic care, diabetic strips, etc.

    Increasing wait time for cataract surgery

    No longer covered for eye exams yet taxpayers paying for sex changes

    Wait time for nursing home bed tripled

    Failure to disclose elevated radiation levels

    OES missed its collection and recycling targets by 59%

    Not correcting the foreign ownership of our beer market

    Acceptance of garbage striker extortion

    Harassing labour inspectors

    Kowtowing to green energy lobbies

    Imposing blood alcohol rules that punish people who are not impaired

    Public utilities donating to Liberals

    Voting to cover up the Niagara Parks Commission scandal

    Emergency room wait times not meeting provincial targets

    Put on notice by Standard and Poor, credit rating downgraded, under a very serious credit watch

    Have-not province for the first time in Canadian history

    Borrowing more debt than any province except NB

    Dramatic cuts in health care services in schools

    Nurses getting bonuses despite a wage freeze

    Insufficient senior homecare services

    Failing grade of Family Responsibility Office

    Abstained from vote to investigate CBC expenses

    Cash kickback scheme involving government cleaning contracts

    Talked about a two-year freeze on wages for public sector while previously giving the OPP a 5% wage increase – the OPP received another raise of over 8% in January, 2014

    Energy now unaffordable yet we must pay Quebec and some north-eastern States to take our surplus energy

    Encouraging farmers to build small-scale solar projects but having no way to connect them to the power grid

    Laid up in US hospital beds as no beds available in Ontario

    Refusing public inquiry into G20 fiasco

    Giving those who hire only newcomers a 10,000.00 tax credit

    Third highest user of food banks

    Announced pay freezes knowing that 38,000 were getting a 3% salary increase after the election

    Hiding hospital errors from the public

    Teachers skipping classes to assist with anti-Conservative campaign

    Failing grade in northern forestry management

    Almost 40 C. difficile deaths to date

    Loss of 6,500 cancer patient health records

    Highest rent increase rate in years

    Ignoring evidence that wind turbines can cause poor health

    Workers at eHealth suing for not receiving bonuses

    Liam denied eye care that another child is receiving under OHIP

    Ontarians pleading for their lives or dying because they aren’t getting the health care they need

    Lady with a brain tumor denied help to cover costs which costs are covered in Manitoba

    Electricity rates to rise 42% over five years

    Prior loss of 60,000 jobs in the horse racing industry – now attempting to correct this


    Ring of Fire

    Cleaning kick-back scheme that ended with the conviction of three persons (two of whom were employed by Wynne’s ministry at the time …)

    • Susan Lewis

      Wow! That’s quite a list of complaints.

      So I thought I’d find out who Peter Brunner is and I went to the CTV News Website and I couldn’t someone with that name.

      I couldn’t find a Peter Brunner who’s a journalist anywhere, but I could find this list quoted often by anti-Kathleen Wynne sites.

      Looks like the idea that Kathleen Wynne is responsible for all this is another internet myth.

      • Tony Pullin

        It was the list itself that I found compelling, noteworthy and far from “mythical”. Where did I say Kathleen Wynne is “responsible for all this”?